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By the end of our Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm review, you will have all the information you need to make an informed decision whether this top-selling smartwatch is right for you. We’ve come a long way from the days of the simple wristwatch. Today, the devices we wear on our wrists are way more versatile. Companies like Apple, Google and Samsung use the internet of things to create timepieces that do more than simply tell time.
Take the smartwatch as an example. It combines the convenience of a wearable device like a Fitbit with the processing power of much larger electronics, like cellphones.
Samsung has a line of smartwatches that competes for a slice of the market that Apple Watch dominates. Their efforts are paying off and they have doubled their market share, thanks to their recent product releases.
Samsung released the Samsung Galaxy Watch along with the Galaxy Note 9. The joint release makes it seem as if the Galaxy Watch were a companion piece for a smartphone. It turns out that this smartwatch is exactly that: A general-purpose wearable that also strives to perform the functions of far more specialized smartwatches.
This Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm review explores how well the smartwatch pulls off this feat.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm Review part 1: What you want from a smartwatch
Like a regular timepiece, a smartwatch should display the time. It should also improve your daily routine in at least one of the following ways:
- Allow you to track your activity level
- Help with your fitness routine
- Improve your experience as you do activities like hiking or swimming
- Make and receive phone calls and text messages
- Act as a smaller, more portable media player by playing music from internal storage as well as streaming services
- Channel output from your smartphone, including audio
- Channel output to your smartphone, including your speech during a phonecall
- Access your smartphone via Bluetooth
- Display useful information like traffic or weather updates
A smartwatch only provides a good user experience if it accurately performs its assigned tasks. Its level of accuracy varies, depending on the make and model of the device.
Some wearables do a great job of reading physical data like distance, movement and heart rate. Others have robust Bluetooth connectivity that allows you to enjoy great sound quality during phone calls and audio playback.
Others still are compatible with a wide range of devices and operating systems. These are some of the metrics that form the lens through which we do a Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm review. So take a closer look at the Galaxy Watch, starting with first impressions.
This smartwatch looks appropriate on your wrist, no matter where you are. You could be at the office or doing your morning laps at the pool; the smartwatch never seems out of place.
The Galaxy Watch has a polished look to it, thanks to its round face with black trim and a silver body made of stainless steel. The black trim that frames the screen is not just cosmetic. It is a rotating bezel that you can use to navigate through the menu items on your screen.
The body of the Galaxy watch 46mm is a little chunky, which figures since it holds a larger battery than the 42mm model. Yet it is surprisingly light. There are two buttons at the upper edge of the watch. The one on the left is the back button, which you can also use to read notifications. The one on the right is the home button.
The Galaxy Watch comes with two sets of sturdy silicone straps, each with stainless steel buckles that match the rest of the watch. The straps come in many color variations, from black to grey to deep blue. If you want more individuality in the look of your smartwatch, you should consider the 42mm variant of the Galaxy Watch. The rose-gold combination of the 42mm is a unique take on the smartwatch.
Design: Size, screen and interface
The diameter of the watch is 49mm across if you take the bezel into account. The screen itself measures 46mm. At 13mm thick, this Galaxy Watch is a little thicker than its predecessor, the Samsung Gear S3 Frontier.
Because the rotating bezel of the watch is raised, it acts as protection for the screen. Not that the screen needs protecting. It’s made of ‘military-grade’ Gorilla Glass, which is pretty scratch and impact resistant.
Samsung used a 360x360p circular AMOLED display that renders crisp, vivid images and video. The display is also bright enough to hold its own against sunlight. The Tizen interface that runs the watch makes full use of this high-end high display. That’s one of the reasons why the Galaxy Watch 46mm makes for such a great user experience.
[Read what others are saying about the Samsung Galaxy Watch]
Under the hood
The Galaxy Watch has a lot of processing power in its casing. It is powered by a Dual-Core, 1.15Hz processor. The 4G version of the watch comes with 1.5GB RAM while the Bluetooth-only version comes with half that. The Galaxy Watch also has 4GB of internal memory.
As connectivity goes, the watch comes with a wireless adapter for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.2. The LTE version of the phone also comes with 3G/4G support. Both versions of the watch come with NFC capability, allowing you to pay for stuff via platforms like Venmo.
The smartwatch also comes with sensors that help with fitness, health and outdoor activities. There’s a GPS tracker to measure how much distance you cover. There is also a heart rate sensor positioned at the back of the watch, where it rests over your pulse.
In addition, the watch comes fitted with a gyroscope, an accelerometer, a light sensor and a barometer that allows the watch to count your steps as you take the stairs or walk up a hill. The sensor that perceives light allows the watch to dim and brighten, depending on ambient light.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm review part 2: Navigating Tizen OS 4.0
The smartwatch feels great from the moment that you wear it. It is lightweight, but with a screen that is large enough to display several pieces of information at the same time.
The screen is also fun to use. Tizen and the panel both make the touchscreen super responsive to the touch, such that there’s minimal lag between the touch of your finger and the loading of the selected app or menu item. The responsive touchscreen is great, but the rotating bezel that frames the screen is what sets this watch apart from the rest.
The bezel allows you to navigate Tizen OS or scroll through text, without forcing you to block your view of the screen with your fingers. This is something that you will be hard-pressed to find on other smartwatch brands. The bezel turns with a snapping action that feels a lot like a combination lock; the kind that you would find on a locker or a safe. This enhances the overall experience of the Galaxy Watch.
Once you settle on a menu item, you can use the left buttons at the top of the clock face to select said item.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm review part 3: The Tizen Wearable OS 4.0 interface
If you’ve used a Samsung phone before, then the Galaxy Watch is just a miniature reproduction of the phone’s interface. This is not always a good thing. Just like your average Samsung phone, this smartwatch goes dark when inactive, by default.
Now, the purpose of a watch is to display the time, all the time. It then follows that walking around with a dark screen on your wrist looks weird. This means that if you want a more realistic look to your Galaxy Watch, you’ll need to change the settings. You can have Tizen display a clock even when the watch is inactive. The problem is that displaying a clock at all times eats up precious charge, ultimately reducing the amount of time that the battery lasts between charges. More on this later.
Another pet peeve you may have with this watch: Samsung does this thing where they animate your selection of a menu item. Instead of displaying the open app, email or notification directly, Samsung first displays a transition screen. This slows the response of the watch. Samsung does have the same animation in its phones as well, and it’s a mystery why they feel the need to add that little pause.
Tizen and content
Apple’s app store is fairly well-stocked, allowing owners of Apple wearables to enjoy a wide variety of apps. There are also many companies that make smartwatches that run Google’s Wear OS. These wearables have access to the vast amounts of content available in Google’s Wear OS app store.
Then there’s the Samsung Galaxy Watch. It runs on Tizen, but only because Wear OS does not support rotating bezels. This limits the owner of a Galaxy watch to apps from the Tizen store. It’s not like Samsung’s app store is empty. It’s just that other app stores have a whole lot more content.
That said the watch comes with many pre-installed apps that allow you to do anything that you could possibly think of. This is actually where the Samsung Galaxy Watch shines. Here are some of the ways that the watch adds value to your daily routine:
Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm review part 4: Features
The look and feel of a smartwatch is the first impression you get off your phone. It can determine if you buy the watch or choose something else. There is a second, less visible measure of a smart watch’s suitability: How well it actually works and how much value it adds to your life.
Does the Galaxy watch make it easier for you to make or answer phone calls? How reliable is the Bluetooth connection between the watch and the phone, especially during a call? How good is the connection between this smartwatch and a pair of wireless headphones? Is it easy to read, write and send messages from the watch?
A general-purpose smartwatch also performs some of the functions of dedicated fitness devices. So how reliably does the Galaxy Watch monitor your activity level and your heart rate? Does the watch provide the type of motivation you need to make healthier choices during the course of your day? Also, is this smartwatch a good fit for hikers or someone training for a marathon?
To answer all these questions, we need to look at the different features of the smartwatch. This is where our Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm review kicks into high gear.
1. The Galaxy Watch as a companion piece to a smartphone
At 46mm in diameter, the screen of the Galaxy watch is pretty big when compared to the screens of other wearable devices. Compared to a phone, however, it is smaller, which is kind of the point of a wearable device. That’s where the rotating bezel comes in.
Simply put, the bezel makes the Galaxy Watch fun to use. Instead of navigating the limited space on the touchscreen, you can use the bezel to navigate to an app, select it and launch it with one of the side buttons on the watch. Or you could use it to scroll through notifications from your phone. Here’s how the Galaxy watch 46mm brings your smartphone right to your wrist:
When a text comes through your phone, your wrist will buzz. You can then read the text by simply flicking your wrist, or by pressing the back button. The same goes for all sorts of messages, be they email, WhatsApp or twitter.
You can swipe up or use the bezel to scroll through the message. At the end of each message is the option to reply, forward or retweet the message. You respond to messages by voice typing or if you want, by typing or scribbling directly onto the screen.
They work exactly the same way as they do on your phone. Once you pair the phone and the Galaxy Watch, then your calls will redirect to the watch. During an incoming call, you will see your usual call, and reject icons, as well as the text message responses that you love to use when you can’t take a call. The preinstalled phone app looks and works just like the one on your phone.
A variation of the Galaxy Watch comes with LTE connectivity, meaning that you can make calls directly without the use of your phone. Needless to say, you need to get yourself a plan with a service provider. To make a call from the watch, use the phone app.
The sound quality of your calls will be crystal clear should you choose to use the Galaxy watch. It’s almost like the watch cancels out ambient noise. The reliable Bluetooth 4.2 connection doesn’t hurt either.
1.3 Media playback
You can stream music if you are connected to a Wi-Fi or cellular network. You could also download content from your Spotify or Apple account. This allows you to play music from internal storage. The Galaxy Watch pairs with your headphones to provide rich, clear sound.
2. Activity and fitness monitoring
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm review wouldn’t be complete without an exploration of its fitness features.
For starters, the GPS module and accelerometer track your morning or afternoon jog. Together, the two sensors measure the distance that you cover, your speed and the number of steps that you take. When you start to move the accelerometer kicks in automatically and starts to count your steps. As you pick up speed the sensor triggers a jogging app or SHealth module, which engages the GPS tracker.
The heart rate monitor also kicks in to measure how many calories you burn over the course of your exercise routine.
Jogging is a great example of how the Galaxy Watch auto-detects your activities, oftentimes launching the relevant exercise app. There are a number of tailor-made routines in the Samsung Health apps that can help you through a workout. There are also some third-party apps that are pretty awesome. Here is what fitness apps can do for you:
2.1 S Health for wearables
The preinstalled Samsung Health app kicks in once you start doing certain exercises like lunges or squats. The app has modules to track around 39 different exercises. Some of the modules start automatically once certain sensors detect certain types of movement. The app is a great companion whether you’re on a treadmill, on an elliptical, doing pushups or doing yoga.
Swim.com has a version of their app that works on the Tizen OS. The Galaxy Watch has a sensor that triggers the app once you hit the water. The swim.com app logs the distance that you cover, the type of strokes you use, how many calories you burn and other useful information.
This app from Under Armour provides a graphical representation of your run by charting your progress on a map. It provides a breakdown of your jog, including pointing out when and where you caught your second wind. The app is also compatible with many brands of smart shoes, which is nice.
2.4 Inactivity monitoring
Like all smartwatches, the Galaxy Watch doesn’t like it when you sit still for extended periods of time. The watch will buzz you if you remain seated for too long. It will suggest that you do a torso twist, or any other sort of activity, really. You can scroll past the torso twist suggestion to select the kind of exercise you want to do instead.
2.5 Stress and sleep monitoring
Let’s start with the stress part. The heart rate monitor can detect a constantly elevated heart rate. If the rest of the sensors remain inactive, the watch concludes that you’re stressed, not exercising. The Galaxy Watch 46mm then launches an app that walks you through a relaxation routine. By default, it will guide you through some breathing exercises.
As for sleep monitoring, the watch tracks REM sleep. In the morning you get a detailed report of how immobile you were and how much you moved in your sleep. The heart rate sensor also keeps tabs on you, so you get to know if you’re stressing out (or running) in your sleep.
Sleep monitoring is a useful feature. If you can sleep with a watch on your wrist, that is.
How accurate are the sensors and by extension, the apps?
The Galaxy Watch is not a dedicated fitness wearable. That said its sensors are fairly accurate. The watch is like the coach who pushes you hard because they know you can do better. The watch may under-report distance and steps taken by a tiny percentage, but when it tells you that you did a good job, you know that it really means it.
The Galaxy Watch has an IP68 rating. It works perfectly, even at a depth of 50 meters, or approximately 168 feet, both in saltwater or freshwater. The sturdy build of this smartwatch allows you to monitor your swims or shower, or live your life without worrying about damaging your watch.
Samsung says that the battery of the Galaxy Watch 46mm can last for up to four days. They made room for the larger-capacity 472mAh battery by omitting the MST hardware that powers Samsung Pay. They created even more room by increasing the dimensions of the watch. So, does the much-vaunted battery life come as advertised? It depends.
If the watch is your faithful companion as you work a desk job and put in an hour or two of exercise, the battery will last four days. If you choose to display a clock face throughout, you will shave off a full day of battery life, so the battery will last three days.
You may be a fitness enthusiast who spends chunks of time exercising or someone who puts the watch through all of its paces. In which case you will drain the battery in two days, or even thirty-six hours. This means that the watch only makes it to four days with moderate usage, while two days is the expected battery holding time with heavy use.
- Impressive battery life, just so long as you turn off some fun features
- The sturdy build of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm allows it to withstand the elements
- The watch is water-resistant to a depth of 50 meters/168 feet
- The rotating bezel improves the overall user experience of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm
- The Tizen interface is smooth and intuitive
- The smartwatch allows you to monitor your activity during each of the 30 or more exercises recognized by the OS
- Compatible with Android and iOS phones
- The Galaxy Watch allows you to stream from Spotify as well as the Apple cloud
- It allows you to download playlists from your Spotify account
- You can wear the watch to the office, or anywhere for that matter
- The Bluetooth connection of the Galaxy watch allows for clear phone calls and audio playback
- There is a variation of the smartwatch that comes with LTE capability, allowing you to make use of cellphone towers directly from the watch
- Limited compatibility with iOS
- The Tizen ecosystem comes up a little short on apps, especially in comparison with Google’s Wear OS
- The battery only lasts four days if you limit the ways in which you use the phone
- The activity monitoring of the Galaxy Watch is not as accurate as that of an Apple Watch or a Fitbit. That said, a little tweaking of the settings improves the accuracy of the smartwatch
- You will have to install a timer/stopwatch app yourself
The Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm is a good decision
It could be the sturdy build and smooth look of the watch. It may be the interactive interface and useful apps from that come with Tizen OS. Or you may love how clear phone calls sound on this watch. Whatever does it for you, the Galaxy Watch is a good purchase. This Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm review concludes that it is. Read what owners of this smartwatch have to say.
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Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Samsung Galaxy Watch 46mm
1. Does Galaxy Watch have a camera?
No, it doesn’t. Samsung chose to use most of the real estate on the watch for sensors, storage, a powerful processor and a larger-capacity battery.
2. Is Samsung Galaxy Watch any good?
For a general-purpose smartwatch, yes it is. The Galaxy Watch 46mm has an impressive battery, a host of useful features and a great design. It is also waterproof to depths of up to 168 feet in both fresh and saltwater.
3. Can you use the Galaxy watch without a phone?
The Bluetooth version needs to connect to a phone in order to make and receive phone calls, texts and social media posts. It does not need a phone to perform the rest of its functions; only a Wi-Fi connection to access the cloud for the storage and retrieval of data.
The 4G version of the watch works perfectly without a phone, but you’ll need a separate data plan for it.
4. Can you make calls on Galaxy watch?
Yes, you can. The watch has a phone app with a number pad and a contact list. If the smartwatch is Bluetooth only, you will need to connect to your smartphone first. The LTE version of the watch can connect to cellphone towers directly, so you can make calls on the watch in the exact same way you would do it with a cellphone.
5. Does galaxy watch track sleep?
It does. The sensors in the smartwatch track your heart rate and movements during REM sleep. They trigger an app that logs all this information to create a detailed report that you can read when you wake up.
6. Can I shower with my Galaxy watch?
The watch is waterproof and beautifully built, so yes. Now, the touchscreen is really sensitive, which is a good thing. The thing is though, drops of water can then activate the screen, but you get used to it. Hopefully, the watch calibrates itself to ignore water drops at shower time as well. Over to you, Samsung.
7. Is the Galaxy Watch a good swimming companion?
Yes, it is. The watch will detect that you’re in the water and it will want to trigger an app. We recommend the swim.com app from the Samsung Watch app store. The app tracks your technique, the distance you cover and your calorie burn. The subscription-based version of the app is a lot like your very own swim coach.
8. Is the Galaxy Watch compatible with my phone?
The watch is compatible with Apple phones, as long as they run iOS5 or later. It is also compatible with all Android phones, as well as Blackberry devices.